When I’m not writing about games, I’m a musician. I love music. And I love games with a focus on music. I used to have a blast with the Guitar Hero and Rock Band games. I also enjoyed games like Amplitude, Thumper, and Rez. Give me something that combines music and gaming and I am a very happy man. My game of the year in 2017 on Xbox One was a little indie title called Aaero. As much as I am a racing game fan and that year had seen the release of the superb Forza Motorsport 7, Aaero was the game I kept going back to and loving every second of it. Aaero is now coming to Nintendo Switch on Christmas Eve. So, how does this port stack up?
Aaero is a musical rail shooter that immerses you in the music unlike any other shooter. You pilot a ship that has to trace a ribbon of light and shoot enemies. The ribbon of light follows either the melody or bass line of the music, and like in the Guitar Hero and Rock Band games, the closer you get to it the better your score. Also, like in these games, if you venture off-line, that part of the music will drop out until you get back on track. The shooting sections are far more reminiscent of the PlayStation 2 classic Rez. You move a reticle around to lock onto enemies, and when you fire your shots they go in time to the music. It’s a strange game to explain but incredibly intuitive once you start playing.
Any game with a strong emphasis on music will suffer if the soundtrack isn’t up to scratch. Fortunately, despite being a micro studio, the guys at Mad Fellows have managed to attract some of the biggest names in electronic music. Artists like Flux Pavilion, Katy B, Noisia, and many others provide the beats and bass drops that will stay in your head long after you’ve turned your console off. One of the biggest compliments I can give the music in this game is that my wife, who has zero interest in EDM, asked me what I was playing and said how good the soundtrack was.
The game is very clever in which parts of the music it emulates with the ribbon of light that you have to follow. The vocal lines provide quick changes that require a lot of accuracy to get higher scores. The bass lines don’t have as many changes but have a lot more rotational elements, which reflect slides/glissandos in the music. With this being the Complete Edition, alongside the 15 tracks included in the original release are an additional six tracks, as well as a choice of ships to pilot. There are a couple of these new six that don’t quite hit the heights of the original 15, but none of them are bad.
The game’s transition to Switch has gone very smoothly. While the visuals aren’t quite as sharp as on my Xbox One X, the visual style doesn’t really require it. This is also completely forgivable for a game that gives me the option to play it while on the move. Aaero is, in fact, the perfect game for playing while out and about. With lots of songs being three-to-four minutes long, they are great for a quick playthrough before the next bus stop, station, or while you finish your coffee. If you are playing in handheld mode, I would highly recommend using headphones. This isn’t just for the sanity of everyone around you but because the bass-heavy tracks really point out the inadequacy of the speakers in the Switch.
Aaero was my favorite game of last year, and with the move to Switch it’s now one of my favorite titles of 2018. It’s one of those games that will have a permanent spot on my console. The way that Mad Fellows has reinvigorated the rhythm action genre is nothing short of brilliant. If you have any interest in the genre, EDM, or just great games, then this is something that you really should add to your collection.
A review code was provided by the publisher.
Founding Xbox Enthusiast member and serious guitar player. Basically, Steve rocks. Need we say more?